Opposition leader promises to get tougher on crime
Measures include stiffer sentences for paedophiles and burglars12 February 2008
MADRID - Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy said on Monday that he would lower the age at which juvenile offenders can be sent to jail and stiffen sentences for a range of crimes as part of measures aimed at increasing public security.
Calling the current Socialist government's efforts to fight crime a "fiasco," Rajoy told supporters in Seville that if he wins the general election on 9 March he will make fighting crime a top priority.
"It should be the utmost obligation of the state," he said.
Among other measures, Rajoy said he would propose lowering the age at which juvenile offenders can be charged to less than 14 years. He also promised to toughen sentences for people convicted of paedophilia, race crimes and armed burglaries, while putting another 30,000 police and Civil Guards onto Spain's streets.
While the plans were applauded in some sectors, they were widely criticised by the Socialist government, which claimed that Rajoy has little credibility having let the murder rate climb while serving as interior minister between 2001 and 2003. The attempt to show himself as being tough on crime follows Rajoy's efforts last week to portray himself as being no less firm on immigration. However, during a visit later yesterday to the Spanish North African enclave of Melilla, where around half the population is Muslim, the PP leader made no mention of plans to ban girls from wearing Islamic headscarves in schools or forcing immigrants to sign an "integration contract."
Asked about the headscarf issue, Melilla's PP premier, Juan José Imbroda, said it would not apply in the enclave because, unlike elsewhere in Spain, it could not be considered an "element of discrimination" there.
[Copyright EL PAÍS / A. EATWELL 2008]
Subject: Spanish news